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Politics

How Labour won the argument

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By Matthew Paul

Even though Labour –according to Jeremy Corbyn– ‘won the argument’ last Thursday, the
Tories comprehensively won at the traditionally more important business of getting votes.
Simon Hart, Stephen Crabb and Jonathan Edwards all held their seats; the two
Conservatives enjoying comfortable majorities over Labour (though it was Hart, not Crabb,
who took Alun Cairns’ vacant job as Secretary of State for Wales).
Plaid Cymru, as predicted, had a pretty rotten night. They can take a little comfort from Ben
Lake’s solid win in Ceredigion, and from seeing their majorities creep up in Y Fro Gymraeg.
But the Party of Wales remains a party supported by only one in ten Welsh voters. Plaid
made no progress at all outside its core areas; indeed its share of the vote has (with a very
slight blip in 2015) been slowly on the slide for twenty years, from the 14.1% it won in the
2001 General Election, to 9.9% last Thursday. This is not a movement on the march.
Plaid’s aggressively anti-Brexit stance, and its ‘Unite to Remain’ alliance with wishy-washy
Britnat parties was a huge strategic error. Mistletoe-clad traditionalists in Y Fro know
perfectly well that the party is pro-EU and didn’t need reminding. Brexity boyos in the
valleys looking for an alternative to Labour found it a massive turn-off.
In Carmarthenshire West and South Pembrokeshire, Plaid’s vote share fell; Rhys Thomas
having failed to mention frequently enough that he’s a doctor and was in Afghanistan.
Jonathan Edwards will be spooked too. He lost half his majority in Carmarthen East &
Dinefwr, and the Conservatives smashed Labour into third place. With a bit of investment in
the constituency from CCHQ, there is every prospect of the Tories biting Jonathan on the
bum next time round.
While the doorstep in the Pembrokeshire constituencies had been showing solid support for
the Tories but no reason for complacency, over in Carmarthenshire it was apparent that the
Labour campaign had completely gone to bits. Labour Candidate Maria Carroll, though an
avid Corbynite, was for some reason unpersoned by her party and ordered to stay away
from Jezza’s big gig at Nantyci showground. The dear leader didn’t mention her or CE&D
once in his speech.
Rattled, Carroll put out a video in which she adopted the conciliatory tone of a dying gypsy
fortune-teller cursing the drunk driver who knocked her down: “your children and
grandchildren will SUFFER!” Even this inspirational message failed to turn things around.
Maria Carroll may have won the argument in Carmarthen East & Dinefwr; but only if the
argument centred on whether or not she would lose to both Plaid and the Tories, and get
the lowest vote in Carmarthenshire in the Labour Party’s entire history. To her credit, she
achieved both. She was fortunate not to face a credible challenge from the LibDems, or
Count Binface.
In receipt of this absolute shellacking from the electorate, many candidates would step
back, slightly abashed, and opt for a moment of quiet reflection. Not Maria. Erupting on
Twitter, she blamed every factor for her defeat except unpropitious astrological
convergences, her own incompetence, and Oh! Jeremy Corbyn. Broadly speaking, she

shared the view prevalent amongst members of the Corbyn cult; that the electorate got it
wrong.
Certainly, the analysis among Corbynites seems to be that it wasn’t the manifesto that got it
wrong; voters loved the classical socialist idea of taxing the rich until there aren’t any left,
then starting on the moderately well off. It definitely wasn’t the leader either; he is a good,
kind, honest, decent man who really cares for the poor. And, as we all know, there aren’t
any poor Jews. No, it was vile, billionaire-owned mainstream media like The New
Statesman, The Guardian and The Pembrokeshire Herald that brainwashed a majority of the
electorate into thinking Corbyn was an unpatriotic halfwit who surrounded himself with
commies, bomb-scatterers and anti-Semites. What made it worse was that they achieved
this by the sneaky, underhand trick of reporting things that Corbyn had said and done.
Carroll tweeted that she wants to see “an end to the abusive power of the media”, and even
expressed an aspiration to close the media down, so perhaps The Pembrokeshire Herald has
had a lucky break.
Maria Carroll wasn’t alone on Thursday night. The Beast of Bolsover, Dennis Skinner, was
finally told that his forty-year long end of the pier show was being shut down. Labour were
turfed out of Sedgefield; once Tony Blair’s rock-solid stronghold. Redcar, Grimsby Fishdocks,
Satanic Mills East, and a host of other seats which have been Labour since the dawn of time
all voted with some enthusiasm for Boris and Brexit.
The strategy of forcing opposition parties to treat a first-past-the-post election as a
referendum on a subject about which they didn’t agree worked an absolute treat for the
Tories. Even so, a competently led Labour Party with a clearly defined position on Brexit
could have won. In one credible poll, 43% of Labour voters who switched sides said it was
leadership, not Brexit, that was their main concern.
For the time being, Corbyn remains at the helm of his stricken party, anxious to ensure that
whoever succeeds him is chosen on his terms and from his cult. Any Tory with £3 in his
pocket would do well to sign up to Labour now, for the unmissable opportunity of helping to
elect Richard Burgon or Rebecca Long-Bailey as the Lenin-capped loon’s successor.
Entertaining as it may be to watch the Labour Party disintegrate, the Tories can allow
themselves only a short gloat. Reality will start to bite soon, when they get stuck into what
may not be the entirely effortless task of Getting Brexit Done.

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News

Withyhedge Landfill: Multi-agency statement issued to residents

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NATURAL Resources Wales (NRW) shared the most recent findings from a visit to Withyhedge Landfill site in Pembrokeshire at a Multi-agency Incident Management Team meeting on Wednesday, 10 April. The meeting included representatives from Pembrokeshire County Council (PCC), Public Health Wales (PHW) and Hywel Dda University Health Board.

All authorities acknowledge and empathise with the impact this prolonged odour issue is having on members of the communities that surround Withyhedge Landfill.

This is a complex and ever-changing situation, and partners are working extremely hard to reach a point where the odour problems are resolved.

NRW officers attended the site on Monday 8 April. It appears, from a visual assessment of the work undertaken on site, that the required capping work and gas well installation has been completed by site operators, RML, in line with the deadline of the S36 Enforcement Notice, issued by NRW on 13 February 2024.

However, this can only be fully assessed by NRW once survey and construction validation reports have been submitted. The operator is now preparing these and once received, a formal assessment will be undertaken.

The authorities will review the findings and revise their action plans where appropriate.

Odour Monitoring

Since the passing of the S36 Enforcement Notice deadline of Friday 5 April, and in response to continued high volumes of odour reports from the local community, NRW and PCC increased odour monitoring in residential areas over the weekend and into this week.

Other possible areas on site where odour may be coming from have been identified and the statement from the company issued 9 April provides further detail.

RML submitted plans to address these on 10 April, which are now being considered by NRW.

Air Quality Monitoring

RML has also commissioned an independent party to carry out air quality monitoring, and this work continues. PCC and NRW are providing technical advice in support of this work.

The first round of diffusion tubes monitoring results detected Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) at one of the 10 monitoring sites. Hydrogen sulphide being a colourless gas which often smells like rotten eggs and can come from the breakdown of waste materials in landfill.

More data is required for meaningful analysis and Public Health Wales continue to advocate for further air monitoring to take place as soon as possible. This is being progressed by PCC and NRW.

Reporting odour

NRW requests that instances of odour from the landfill continue to be reported via this dedicated form: https://bit.ly/reportasmellwithyhedge.

Please report odours at the time of them being experienced, rather than historically. Reporting odours in a timely manner will help guide the work of partners more effectively, particularly in the further development of air quality monitoring.

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Health

Doctors to enter pay negotiations with the Welsh Government

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BMA CYMRU Wales has suspended forthcoming industrial action for Consultants and SAS doctors following a constructive meeting with the Welsh government to resolve its pay disputes.

As a result of sustained pressure, including three rounds of industrial action by junior doctors in Wales, the Welsh Government has made a significant proposal to form the basis of talks to end the pay disputes with all secondary care doctors including Consultants, SAS and Junior doctors.

Since the meeting last week, the committees representing doctors from all three branches of practice have voted to enter pay negotiations based on this proposal.

The planned 48-hour strike by Consultants and SAS doctors due to take place from 16 April will now be suspended.

Junior doctors have paused plans to announce more strike dates whilst they enter negotiations with the Welsh Government.

The Welsh junior doctors committee, Welsh SAS committee and Welsh consultants committee will now each engage in pay negotiations, with the aim of reaching deals which can be taken separately to their respective members.

Dr Oba Babs Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey co-chairs of the BMA’s Welsh Junior doctors Committee said:

“This is a significant step forward. It is sad that we had to take industrial action to get here, but we are proud of members for demonstrating their resolve in pursuit of a fair deal for the profession.

“Whilst we are optimistic and hope to quickly resolve our dispute, we remain steadfast in achieving pay restoration. Until we reach a deal, nothing is off the table.

 “We will continue to work hard to reach an offer that is credible to put to members who will ultimately have the final say.”

Dr Stephen Kelly, chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ Consultants committee said:

“The Welsh Government’s recent efforts to reach an end to the pay dispute are encouraging and so we have called off our planned strike for now whilst we allow time and space for negotiations to take place.

“We’re hopeful that we can reach a deal that sufficiently addresses years of erosion to our pay to help retain senior doctors in Wales but remain ready to strike if we’re not able to do so during negotiations.”

Dr Ali Nazir, chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ SAS doctor committee said:

“As a committee, we felt that this latest development goes someway to understanding the strength of feeling of our members. We will work hard to reach a settlement that sufficiently meets the expectation of our colleagues who have faced real terms pay cuts of up to a third since 2008/9.”

In August last year, the BMA’s committees representing secondary care doctors in Wales voted to enter into separate trade disputes with the Welsh Government after being offered another below inflation pay uplift of just 5% for the 23/24 financial year. SAS doctors on some contracts were offered as little as 1.5%. This was the lowest pay offer any government in the UK offered and less than the DDRB, the pay review body for doctors and dentists, recommended last year.

As part of their disputes, SAS doctors, consultants and junior doctors carried out successful ballots for industrial action. Since then, junior doctors have taken part in 10 days of industrial action since January this year.

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Health

BMA pay disputes – Junior Doctors, Consultants and Specialist Doctors

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THE WELSH Government and BMA Wales’ three national committees representing consultants, SAS doctors and junior doctors have today agreed to formal negotiations about pay.

Planned industrial action will be suspended during the negotiations.

A mandate is being developed for the talks with all three BMA branches of practice with the aim of resolving the disputes over pay for 2023-24.

In the context of the most challenging financial position the Welsh Government has faced since devolution, a significant amount of work has been undertaken to identify funding to support the negotiations.

First Minister Vaughan Gething said: “We recognise the strength of feeling among BMA members and that industrial action is never taken lightly.

“This is a government that listens and engages to find solutions. I prioritised a meeting with the BMA directly alongside the Cabinet Secretary for Health to reinforce our commitment to that partnership approach.

“We currently face the most severe financial situation in the devolution era which makes our task far harder. Despite this backdrop, we have worked to identify a way forward that I hope will lead to the successful resolution of this dispute and ensure that doctors can return to work in NHS Wales.”

Cabinet Secretary for Health Eluned Morgan added: “Even in these very challenging circumstances, we have worked in social partnership with the BMA and NHS to maintain patent safety during industrial action.

“But the strikes have been very disruptive to the delivery of NHS services – none of us want to see doctors on strike. I am pleased the three BMA committees have agreed to pause further industrial action and begin formal talks with Welsh Government and hope we can bring an end to this dispute.”

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